Tourism on Sint Maarten is picking up

Nearly 15,000 tourists graced St Maarten’s shores this week in what acting tourism minister Omar Ottley called a “stunning indication that the Caribbean’s number one cruise destination was back in business.”

“We had a perfect first day with six cruise ships back in port, which is a good feeling. It’s something we’ve worked diligently for as we recover from a difficult two years and seven months of very little economic activity,” he said . Ottley.

The minister said Sint Maarten can expect six new port visits from cruise ships that have never visited the island, in addition to regular port visits. He also confirmed that the number of cruise travel bookings to the island is now around 120 percent. “This is a good indication of what’s in store for us this tourist season,” said Ottley.

The six cruise ships, Star Pride, AidaLuna, Grandeur of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Magic, were visible in Port SXM from 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Thousands of passengers disembarked in anticipation of seeing the island for the first time or returning for the first time since the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of ports more than two years ago.

The streets were filled with visitors on quad bikes, many in rented cars and off-road vehicles and taxis. Tour operators were also able to show some of the visitors the hidden beauty of the island through both land and sea and bars and restaurants. The shopping streets were filled with happy travelers basking in the joy of returning to the Friendly Isle.

Ottley, acting tourism minister, spent some time interacting with visitors and local vendors. “I wanted to get first-hand information from the vendors and visitors about the return of the cruise ships in such grand style. I am pleased to say that the feedback from the vendors has been positive and the visitors have been more than thrilled to be able to visit our beautiful island and our people,” said Ottley.

Ottley and a team from the Department visited the vendors at Philipsburg Market Place and spoke to tourists at Walter Plants on Front Street.

He said the economic impact of the cruise industry on the island over the next six months is expected to rival that of 2019, pre-pandemic.

Minister Ottley congratulated the people of Sint Maarten on restoring cruise tourism in such grand style from the floor of Parliament, where he answered questions from MPs regarding layoffs at Princess Juliana International Airport PJIA.

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